Different Types of Essays for Homeschoolers to LearnPosted In Writing | Posted By Kristy Robins
Homeschool parents often wonder, “How do I teach homeschool writing?” Homeschool students should practice various styles of writing, both formal and informal, to prepare them for professional, personal, and civic responsibilities after high school. This article will discuss the differences between formal and informal writing and give some tips and guidelines for writing four of the most commonly assigned types of essays: expository, personal, persuasive, and compare/contrast. Mastering these different types of essays will set your homeschool student up for success in college and in his or her adult life.
What is Formal Writing?
Formal writing is used in academic and business settings or in other situations when the writer does not have a personal or familiar relationship with the recipient of the piece of writing. Formal writing should be used when writing essays for an academic assignment, business letters and emails, and any writing done for legal purposes. In these situations, the writer uses language, conventions, and style to make the best possible impression on the audience. Specifically, the writer should maintain a sense of formality by:
- * choosing language and sentence structure that creates a respectful tone
- * avoiding use of first-person and second-person pronouns like “I” and “you” (in most cases)
- * omitting contractions, slang, and abbreviations
- * organizing and developing each paragraph with purpose and attention to proper structure
- * carefully editing for correct spelling, punctuation, and grammar
What is Informal Writing?
Informal writing is used to communicate in a personal or casual context. In informal writing situations, the writer, in most cases, is already on familiar terms with the recipient(s) of the writing. This type of writing might be used in a personal email or letter to a friend or family member, in text messages, or in social media posts done in a personal context. In general, informal writing is conversational and less concerned with proper paragraph and sentence construction. In informal writing, the writer may:
- * use contractions, abbreviations, and slang to communicate in a style that resembles oral language
- * use first-person and second- person pronouns
- * not pay much attention to spelling, grammar, or general editing
- * deviate from traditional sentence and paragraph structure
How to Write Different Types of Essays
There are many types of essays, and each requires a slightly different approach. When writing essays for an academic assignment, the first step is to carefully read the prompt or instructions for guidelines or requirements given by the teacher. From there, the writer will want to consider the purpose and audience of the piece of writing when making choices regarding the style and content.
Most essays follow the same basic structure: introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion. While the styles of writing are different with each type of essay, the structure of a formal essay is as follows:
- * Introduction: The introduction should begin with a hook to capture the reader’s attention. The middle sentences of the introduction should contain some general discussion or context about the topic, but any specific details should be saved for the body paragraphs. The thesis statement, the sentence that communicates the main idea of the piece of writing, is usually the last sentence of the introduction.
- * Body Paragraphs: There are generally three body paragraphs in a formal essay, although depending on the nature of the assignment or level of the student, there may be more or fewer body paragraphs. Each body paragraph should be centered around a topic that supports the thesis and that is identified by the body paragraph’s opening sentence. The middle of each body paragraph should contain details and examples that develop the topic. Each body paragraph should end with a closing sentence that signals the end of discussion on that point and then transitions to the next body paragraph.
- * Conclusion: The conclusion, or final paragraph, should restate the thesis, add some elaboration, and end with a thought-provoking ending statement.
An expository essay is written in order to explain or inform an audience about a topic. The writer should take care to present facts and details without including persuasive tactics. Expository essays, like most other essays, should include an introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion.
- * Introduction: The introduction should begin with a hook that captures the audience’s attention. For an expository essay, a startling statistic or interesting anecdote related to the topic works well. At the end of the introduction, the writer should include a clear and concise thesis that states the main idea of the essay. Often the thesis will come directly from the prompt, so students should read it carefully for clues about what should be included in the thesis.
- * Body Paragraphs: The body of an expository essay should be organized so that each body paragraph centers on one main aspect of the overall topic. Each body paragraph should start with an opening sentence that identifies the subject of the paragraph. Within each body paragraph, the writer should include details accompanied by specific examples and explanations that inform the audience and help them have a deeper overall understanding of the topic. The writer should take care to order the information in a logical sequence so that the reader can easily follow the ideas.
- * Conclusion: The conclusion of an expository essay should restate the thesis and provide closure for the topic in an engaging way. The conclusion should not provide any new information.
A personal essay is a specific type of expository essay explaining something from the author’s life or perspective. Because of the personal nature of the writing, first-person pronouns (I, me, etc.) are permissible in this type of composition.
A personal essay should include an introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion. Each section should be developed as follows:
- * Introduction: The introduction should start with a hook that generates interest about the topic. Many writers like to begin a personal essay with a vivid description, thought-provoking question, or a glimpse of the action to come later in the essay. The thesis should directly state the main idea or main event that the essay will discuss.
- * Body Paragraphs: The body paragraphs of a personal essay should include an explanation of the thoughts and feelings of the writer about the topic. If the personal essay is narrative, the writer should also include a descriptive account of the events that occurred in chronological order and use transitions to help the reader understand the sequence of events.
- * Conclusion: The conclusion, or final paragraph, should restate the thesis and include some final thoughts about the event or topic.
A persuasive essay seeks to make an argument to move the audience to act, believe, or feel a certain way. In a persuasive essay, the writer takes an arguable position or stance on a particular topic and provides evidence to convince the audience to agree with that position. The writer should approach the introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion as follows:
- * Introduction: The introduction should begin with an engaging hook, such as a thought-provoking rhetorical question or a surprising fact or statistic that provides an entry into the topic followed by some general background information about the topic. The thesis statement should clearly state the writer’s position on the topic using language that provides a sense of urgency to the reader. In order to successfully persuade his or her audience, the writer must establish the topic as something worthy of time and attention.
- * Body Paragraphs: The body paragraphs should each be centered around a point related to the thesis that the writer seeks to prove with evidence and examples. The writer must interpret the evidence to show how it connects to the point he or she is trying to make. The writer should use strong language designed to appeal to the audience’s logic and emotions in order to persuade them to agree with the writer’s position. At the same time, the writer should take care not to overdo in this department so that he or she doesn’t inadvertently create a comical tone instead of a passionate one. The closing sentence of each body paragraph should connect the point made in the opening sentence to the overall thesis of the essay.
- * Conclusion: The conclusion of a persuasive essay is incredibly important to the success of the essay. The writer should restate the thesis and include a call to action that tells the audience exactly what they should do now that they have been enlightened by the writer’s argumentation. The conclusion should also provide the “so what?” — the reasoning that motivates the audience to care about the topic and to act accordingly.
A compare/contrast essay is another specific type of expository essay and, as the name implies, involves a study of two subjects and explains their similarities and differences. Generally the writer chooses points of comparison and explains how the two subjects are similar and different in regard to those points. The writer should not feel pressured to provide an equal amount of development on both the similarities and differences. Like other essays, a compare/contrast essay should include an introduction, body, and conclusion.
- * Introduction: The writer should start the introduction with a hook that captures the audience’s attention and brings the subjects into focus, such as a vivid description or an interesting anecdote. The middle sentences should elaborate on the subject and lead into the thesis, which states the writer’s intent to explain how the two subjects are similar and different.
- * Body Paragraphs: Each opening sentence should introduce a point of comparison or contrast between the two subjects. The middle sentences should provide details and examples that support the comparison or contrast, usually through the use of concrete details and descriptions.
- * Conclusion: The conclusion should include a restatement of the thesis and any final thoughts or insights the writer wishes to share about the two subjects.
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